Black Congresswoman Arrested at Voting Protest Says: 'You Can't Silence Me'

A Black congresswoman who was arrested by U.S. Capitol Police alongside eight others while taking part in a voting rights protest on Thursday declared: "You can't silence me."

Joyce Beatty, a Democratic representative in Ohio and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, was arrested on Thursday afternoon inside the Senate Hart Office Building atrium. After the demonstrators arrived there, the police asked them to clear the area, but they refused to do so.

Beatty was taking part in the rally with a small group of activists, including Women's March co-founders Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory. They were calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, a sweeping electoral reform bill, according to a statement from the lawmaker's office before the event.

The rally, which had about a dozen participants including some wearing t-shirts saying "Protect Our Voting Rights" and "Black Voters Matter," began outside of the Supreme Court building. The protesters then marched to Hart singing songs such as: "This Little Light of Mine," according to CNN.

Beatty was the first of the protesters to be arrested, but eight others were later detained by police for taking part in the rally.

Let the people vote. Fight for justice.

— Joyce Beatty (@RepBeatty) July 15, 2021

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the Capitol Police said that officers arrived at the scene at about 3:30 p.m. after receiving "reports of illegal demonstration activity" and explained that "they warned the demonstrators three times to stop. Those who refused were arrested."

Beatty shared pictures on her Twitter account showing her being zip-tied by the officers, alongside the caption: "Let the people vote. Fight for justice," before later posting:"#GoodTrouble," in reference to the late civil rights icon John Lewis, who was arrested more than 40 times for demonstrating against racist laws.

She also shared a statement, writing: "I stand in solidarity with the Black women and allies across the country in defense of our constitutional right to vote.

"We have come too far and fought too hard to see everything systematically dismantled and restricted by those who wish to silence us. Be assured that this is just the beginning. This is Our Power, Our Message."

Later on Thursday evening, Beatty tweeted again, this time writing: "You can arrest me. You can't stop me. You can't silence me," in a post that at the time of writing has attracted more than 67,000 likes and close to 10,000 retweets.

You can arrest me. You can’t stop me. You can’t silence me.

— Joyce Beatty (@RepBeatty) July 15, 2021

During an interview at around 10:50 p.m. ET on MSNBC's The Last Word on Thursday, Beatty confirmed that the purpose of the rally was to get the Senate to pass the For the People Act to get "more people registered to vote without voter suppression," adding that it's "the only way we can make a change."

The Democratic legislation, which would expand voting rights and limit campaign finance spending, was passed in the House earlier in the year, but was then blocked by Republicans in the Senate in June.

Newsweek has contacted Beatty's office for comment.

Joyce Beatty arrested at rally
Ohio Representative Joyce Beatty is led away by a member of the U.S. Capitol Police during a protest at Hart Senate Office Building on July 15, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images